Canadian Robert Wickens will go to IndyCar in the upcoming season for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports beside James Hinchcliffe.
The 28 year-old racing driver has done 6 seasons for Mercedes-AMG in DTM, but he actually has a background in single-seaters.
He had his first visit to European motorsport in 2006, while he still continued to race in the USA. He finished third in the Champ Car Atlantics in 2007, right in front of Hinchcliffe, before he became a part of the Canadian A1 Grand Prix team. 2008 was a mixed season for him with both Formula 3 and Formula Renault 3,5, while the main goal for 2009 was Formula 2, where he finished second in the Championship.
GP3 was on the agenda in 2010, where he finished second behind Esteban Gutierrez, before he went on to take the Formula Renault 3,5 Title in 2011, beating drivers like Jean-Eric Vergne og Alexander Rossi. At the same time he had been appointed test driver for Marussia Virgin Racing, without giving him further chances in Formula 1.
It probably was the Formula 1 dream, and not least the important thing about being paid to do racing, which meant that he signed for Mercedes-AMG for the 2012 DTM season. Paul Di Resta had just advanced from DTM to Formula 1, so he was probably trying to repeat that. Wickens did a season for Mücke Motorsport, before getting hired by the “main team” at HWA. He has been a part of that outfit since, but has only won 6 races in six season, and been on 5 Pole Positions. His best result in the Championship is finishing fourth in 2016.
Wickens already started to flirt with IndyCar during 2017, where he tested for the SPM team a few times, and in fact was on standby to do an actual race, when their regular driver, Mikhail Aleshin had issues with his visa. Wickens only managed to do the Friday practice before Aleshin got through immigration and was driving the car for the remainder of that weekend.
But now he has received the 2018 full season call.
That leaves a gap at Mercedes-AMG in their DTM programme. Normally people would be standing in line for such a seat, but Mercedes already announced a few months ago, that they would leave the DTM series after the 2018 season, and then concentrate on the FIA Formula E Championship instead (read the article here). But Mercedes has a whole bunch of young junior drivers, who probably won’t say no if they get the chance. Or it could be drivers like Maximilian Götz and Christian Vietoris, who were both sacked from DTM, when the teams went down to only 6 cars per manufacturer prior to this season. Both Götz and Vietoris know all the DTM tracks, know the cars, which haven’t changed significantly. So compared to starting from scratch with a brand new driver, that might be the smart choice.
Mercedes have a tendency of being very lazy regarding their DTM drivers announcement, and we have often had to wait a long time into the spring, before they have put name on their drivers. So it could be a long time before we know the replacement for Robert Wickens.